Consumer Health Digest #17-01
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
January 1, 2017
Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., with help from William M. London, Ed.D., M.P.H. It summarizes scientific reports; legislative developments; enforcement actions; news reports; Web site evaluations; recommended and nonrecommended books; and other information relevant to consumer protection and consumer decision-making.
Report on drug price gouging released. U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Aging Committee, have released a report on drug pricing titled, "Sudden Price Spikes in Off-Patent Prescription Drugs: The Monopoly Business Model that Harms Patients, Taxpayers, and the U.S. Health Care System." The 131-page report details findings from the Committee's investigation into abrupt price increases for prescription drugs whose patents expired long ago. The report examines how companies acquired and raised the prices of decades-old, off-patent, and previously affordable drugs to the detriment of patients, insurance companies, providers, hospitals, and the government. The report also discusses policy responses:
- The Increasing Competition in Pharmaceuticals Act (S. 2615), introduced by Collins and McCaskill, would address regulatory factors that serve as limitations to generic entry.
- Permitting highly targeted, temporary prescription drug importation could provide prompt price relief for major price increases in off-patent drugs. This would require giving the FDA the power to permit temporary importation.
- The Federal Trade Commission can take greater enforcement action on drug company mergers and operations that are anti-competitive..
- Greater transparency in the health care system would call public and legislative attention to drug price manipulation that is now hidden.
New newsletter focuses on lowering drug costs. The Prescription Justice Action Group, which advocates for legislative and regulatory reforms to help Americans who are struggling to afford prescription medication, has launched a free weekly e-mail report on relevant news. Dr. Stephen Barrett is a board member of the group.
Another "alternative" physician charged. Keith R. DeOrio, M.D., who practiced "alternative medicine" in Santa Monica, California, is facing charges of unprofessional conduct for refusing to provide patient records to the Medical Board of California. The accusation states:
- In 2013, the husband of a former patient complained that his wife was treated unpofessionally by DeOrio and that DeOrio may be mentally impaired.
- In 2013, another patient complained that DeOrio (a) provided her with substandard care, (b) exploited her financially by selling her expensive non-FDA approved medical devices, (c) committed unprofessional conduct, (d) failed to maintain adequate records of her care and treatment, and (e) may be mentally impaired.
- An undercover investigator visited DeOrio as a patient.
- When the board requested the records of the first two complainants and one other patient, DeOrio replied through his attorney that he would not comply with the requests "pursuant to his rights under the Fifth Amendment and the United States Constitution."
Medical boards generally look unkindly at refusal to provide records. The board is seeking to suspend or revoke DeOrio's license and fine him $30,000 for refusing to supply the records. In 2013, the DeOrio Wellness Medical Center Web site offered a "comprehensive holistic evaluation and treatment program" that included "specialized laboratory testing," Oriental pulse and tongue diagnosis; homeopathic interview and treatment; acupuncture; nutrition and diet consultation; "structural and biomechanical integration"; "emotion and spiritual counseling"; and "infra-red sauna baths combined with IV vitamin therapy for the newest, safest and most effective detoxification program available." The site was taken down in 2014, and DeOrio's clinic appears to be closed.
This page was posted on January 1, 2017.